SCF publishes ‘roadmap’ for 5G small-cell network automation

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The Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published a whitepaper on the commercialisation of end-to-end small cell automation for 5G.

SCF notes that such automation will be required to ensure effective network operation as small cells are deployed at scale for 5G.

The SCF233 Small Cell SON and Orchestration from 4G to 5G whitepaper has been produced by SCF members AirHop, CommScope, Node-H, Nokia, Parallel Wireless, Reliance Jio and Samsung Electronics. It includes implementation recommendations for areas such as disaggregation, virtualisation, private networks and analytics with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Interoperability

“With over a decade’s experience of commercialising large-scale plug-and-play small cell deployments, this paper presents SCF’s recommendations of how self-organising networks (SON) and automation need to be implemented for the broader end-to-end and AI-enabled automated vision for 5G,” said Dr Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum.

He added, “Open and interoperable management and orchestration are a pre-requisite to realise these ambitions. Standards are an important first step, but further industry effort is now needed to prioritise scenarios, architectures and features for use in multi-vendor interoperability testing.”

Following the recommendations, members have initiated a number of work items which look at the underlying management platforms as well as future AI/ML applications that open and interoperable management and orchestration could enable.

Management models

“It is evident that with increasing complexity and dimensionality of networks as we move towards the 5G era, self-organisation and automation are key for network operators,” said CommScope’s Balaji Raghotaman, who led the project. “As the industry moves towards a virtualised environment with off-the-shelf hardware, small cells are also moving in that direction.

“This brings opportunities and challenges, including the need for SCF to develop lean and scalable management models for small cell scenarios which can complement other industry efforts defining feature-rich but information-heavy macro cell counterparts.”
 
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